Growing Pains

“All the good deeds in the world cannot make up for some things.”

Last week’s article discussed the importance of continued growth and personal development, and how sometimes it happens when least expected. It’s important to make it a priority; not because it will somehow decrease but rather that there is no limit to how much growth we can accomplish.

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to continuing this kind of growth is because it sometimes can be very painful and alarming. Growth and development frequently mean discovering something about ourselves that is noticeably unpleasant. In fact, it can be quite troublesome especially when uncovering something about ourselves which we’ve been doing a long time and now realizing it was dreadfully wrong.

Whether the pain is physical or emotional, most of us try to avoid it at all cost. It would make sense that when our growth hints at the slightest bit of discomfort, the normal reaction would be to evade it. However, a prudent move would be to interpret that moment a challenge for us to work through it and become a stronger, more empowered person.

It is possible that one of the most frequent excuses for ignoring our growth is being used habitually without most even realizing it’s happening.

Many life coaches, trainers, and quite possibly teachers, got into their line of work because they enjoy helping others. I know that for me, there is rarely anything more exciting than when I see clients have an awakening moment during a session. To witness the look of enthusiasm replace the once puzzled expression signifying their breakthrough is a priceless moment. It’s an adrenaline rush like none other.

But no matter how exciting that moment is and how much that client is now able to press forward and overcome, it does not replace my own moments of personal growth. Even if I were to affect the lives of tens of thousands in one moment, that still would not be a substitution for my continued development.

Helping others is always a good thing. I would never recommend using your own personal growth as an excuse not to assist or encourage someone else. But sometimes under the guise of helping others, we neglect what needs to be done in our own lives and justify it by helping or diligently giving more. Each one of us must continue our growth no matter how large, small, painful, or eye-opening. No one will ever reach a point in this life where all knowledge, wisdom, and insights have been accrued.

Perhaps one of the most subtle ways we are stifled by personal growth is when confusion and uncertainty overwhelm us. We may have no idea which direction to go so avoidance is the chosen road. Likewise, the thought of anyone finding out is equally embarrassing and that causes us not to seek help. This unfortunately, is the result of years which our own shame has fed us these lies that vulnerability is weakness. If you are feeling this way, you are the kind of person I’m committed to help. Feel free to contact me directly to see how you may receive insights on how these struggles can be transformed into victories.

My thanks again to Robert J. Morales for the wonderful picture. He has quite a spectacular portfolio and is also on Instagram. I look forward to reading your comments.

How do you know?

Photo by Robert J. Morales Half Dome at sunset

“Personal development ought to be a daily objective for everyone”

Are there common signs or indicators which plainly tell us when we have developed emotionally? How do we know when there has been any kind of self-growth or personal development? Shouldn’t the answers be as evident as a bolt of lightning or a crash of thunder?

When my healing journey began in mid-2012, I can recall some “aha” moments where I began to get a better understanding of who I was. Typically, they were not moments of fanfare or jubilation but smaller instances which felt more like a light becoming brighter in a poorly-lit room. If there was a moment which I would consider my most significant realization, it would have to be the session which I fondly refer to as my own Independence Day. On February 22, 2013, everything clicked and I knew moving forward things were going to be better.

There are no set patterns for when it occurs and there are also times personal growth happens when we aren’t even aware. Recently, I reconnected with someone I knew 30 years ago. He had heard about my book and wanted to purchase a copy. A month later, he was in Las Vegas and we arranged to meet and discuss questions he had concerning my book. The subject of happiness came up and as an example, he explained to me that after working for years on his home and spending tens of thousands of dollars, he expected to feel much happier when it was finally completed.

I could see a puzzling look on his face when he realized this pursuit for happiness didn’t work as well as he’d imagined. It was an “aha” moment for him but certainly not one of those joyous moments we prefer to happen with personal development.

“Sometimes” I told him, “Self-growth just sucks” causing us both to chuckle. Frequently, when this kind of growth occurs, it’s because we discovered something about ourselves which needs changing or improving. Admitting to this is not easy. It hints of failure because of the realization that our thinking or actions were wrong. However, once we commit to fixing it, we quickly feel better about coming to this understanding.

Our conversation about happiness continued; this time with a positive “aha” moment. He explained the night before was the first time he’d ever been in Las Vegas by himself and could have gone anywhere and done anything he wanted. However, it was late and he decided to stay in his room. Another bewildered look appeared but after discussing it, he realized he didn’t need the excitement of the Las Vegas Strip that evening so he went to bed.

“Isn’t that what happiness is about” I asked. “Simply being at a place of contentment so that we don’t need anything else to fill some perceived void”?

This time there was a different, more pleasant gaze. The satisfying look of accomplishment. I don’t know about him, but that is one “aha” moment I will never forget.

Personal growth and development can be a daily occurrence. It doesn’t need to feel like a huge triumph and may feel like a temporary set back. The moments of victory will happen but focus each day on something that will influence you to be a more positive human being.

My thanks to Robert J. Morales for the beautiful photograph. You can see hundreds more of his shots at Thank you and I look forward to your comments.

Uncivil Disobedience

If you’re going to be rebellious, then rebel against destructive behavior

Civility is becoming an increasingly important topic in today’s society. National Public Radio has focused many recent reports about it and this is my third, consecutive article on the subject. Interestingly enough, the whole topic sprang from a previous article about freedom of speech. It doesn’t take much imagination to deduce how fighting for your voice alone can quickly turn into a nasty fight with others.

While discussing this article with a friend, she sent me a link to a TEDX talk presented by Christine Porath, an Associate Professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University whose research outlined the benefits of being civil as well as the disadvantages and consequences of incivility. It was gratifying to know that my own opinions and conclusions were not only validated by her detailed study but there were additional, negative outcomes I didn’t deduce.

One of the most thrilling points was the erroneous notion that people will perceive incivility – loud, rude, and garish demeanor – as some sort of power or strength of leadership. Her research showed that not only was it unwelcomed but it drastically reduced productivity in a working environment. Even more revealing was, “The number one reason tied to executive failure was an insensitive, abrasive, or bullying style.” .

I wonder, though, if most people question whether or not they have any influence or effect on this highly polluting and divisive style of rhetoric which is quickly consuming our society. Most of us never have an opportunity to be a well-known leader or for that matter, an opportunity to speak in front of a large crowd, so will any effort make even the slightest difference? Life is busy enough without taking on the additional burden of changing society.

Truthfully, there is no one more important in this fight than you! It’s time we all make a choice to rebel against incivility and begin to make a difference – one individual at a time.

To begin, understand this is a choice and a personal goal. You are choosing to be a stronger person and intent on making a better future. It will take commitment and effort; if there are times we may fall short, view those as a motivation to do better and work harder when the next opportunity arrives.

Perhaps the most important contribution we all can make is refusing and rejecting this style of interaction. Speak out against those who think they can bully and demean people. Let them know it has no place in your conversation. We all can be an example and you’ll never know whom you’ll inspire to make these same decisions.

Often this hostile approach to conversation appears entertaining or comical. The urge to laugh along with the perpetrator without any regard to person being preyed upon, is an easy trap to fall in. Unfortunately, this only serves as recognition and approval; enabling this disparaging and destructive behavior to continue.

Individually, each of us can decide to counter incivility wherever we face it. We don’t need to wait for someone to “lead” us to this decision. The more this uncivil approach declines in everyday interactions, the quicker it will fade from society and into obscurity.
As confirmed by many studies, a civil society will lead to a more productive and happier lifestyle for all of us.

How will you fight incivility? This is not just for the other people reading this article. Feel free to explain it in the comments. My thanks to Linda Wilson for the beautiful photograph.

The Fruits of Civility

Photo by LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash

“The rewards from a civil society are shared and honored by all.”

What can be done to encourage and promote more civility in today’s world? In last week’s article, it was shown how being civil in a debate competition works towards your advantage. The goal now, however, is to make this become the societal norm and reject those whose primary means of dialogue is to belittle and demean anyone with whom they disagree. If this is their only way of knowing how to respond then they honestly do not have the capacity, fortitude, nor quality to be a leader.

Being courteous and gracious not only rewards the individual but also the receivers of this kind act. The other day I had a conversation with my son and without even bringing up this subject, he told me how he had made a conscious effort to be more complimentary and civil to his employees and others in general. In one particular conversation, he went out of his way to tell someone what a great job he was doing and wanted him to know how much his hard work was appreciated. The next day, that gentleman told my son how much what he said had really meant to him.

I was even more proud of my son when he continued with this question. “What is one thing that you can always do that costs nothing and could very well change someone’s day, or for that matter, their life”? After a brief pause, he uttered, “A compliment”.

Being civil and maintaining civility is a choice; quite often a rather difficult one. But like anything else which takes effort, there are great rewards. It builds your own character and also becomes an example for others to follow. Perhaps the biggest side effect of adopting a more considerate form of discourse is that it encourages compassion; evoking a more open-ended outlook and ultimately changing the kind of person you are.

Kindheartedness transforms the individual. It generates empathy for others which in turn, creates an opportunity to be more caring of those around you. Cultivating civility within yourself will ultimately be a beacon to others and invite them to choose it as well.

Today’s society has become infected with harsh, contentious, and divisive rhetoric. All too often, it is given accolades and praise when it should be rebuked and expelled. When that type of behavior is applauded, it only exacerbates and encourages this despicable form of communication. We as a society must make the choice to fervently rebuke this kind of language and not stand for the kind of contention and lack of respect it creates.

Truthfully, civility takes more strength and courage than it does to be argumentative, cruel, and insensitive. It is an arrogant, ignorant, and weak man whose first course of action is to ridicule and denigrate. Mockery is not a sign of intelligence but rather a frustrated, selfish being whose self-importance is only outshone by his true lack of character.

Civility must return and it is the duty for everyone to take part in this effort. We all ought to be courageous and do our best to maintain it while shunning and rejecting those who see no other means of debate.

My thanks to LuAnn Hunt on Unsplash for the wonderful picture and I look forward to your comments.